mVAM: piloting mobile voice technology for household food security data collection

Organisation: UN World Food Programme

Location: Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia

Type of grant: Core – implementation

Status: Completed

  • WFP blog SMS for food security in camps

  • The Goma IVR

  • Staff in Rome testing new software

  • Replacing robocalls

  • Phone charging in action

  • mVAM team in Galkayo_Somalia

  • mVAM team in Galkayo_Somalia

  • Mugunga 3 - Round 5 of WFP Phone Surveys Now Taking Place

  • January blog - SIM activation for 350 mobile phones

  • January blog - Mobile phone distribution to mVAM respondents in Mugunga III camp

  • January blog - Live calls underway

  • Goma DRC operators working with Verboice

  • Face to face survey in Galkao, Somalia

  • WFP has distributed simple feature phones to IDPs of Mugunga 3

  • Photo by David Ore

  • Solar phone charging station

  • mVAM respondent in DRC


The mVAM – ‘mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping’ project provides the use of voice technology for household food security data collection. It is expected that mVAM would lead to a leap in time and cost-efficiency of data collection.

Challenge(s) addressed

  • High cost and cumbersome implementation of primary data collection from households for humanitarian needs assessments.

Innovation Factor

mVAM provides for the use of mobile voice technology for the collection of household food security data. The mVAM approach will allow a more precise understanding of time and cost-efficiency of voice relative to existing face-to-face methods of collecting data. Data collected through voice will feed into established information systems by providing additional, real time data for humanitarian decision making.

Added Value

The mVAM approach is expected to increase cost-effectiveness and timeliness of data collection for short periodic surveys, such as WFP’s regular Food Security Monitoring Systems (FSMS) that track trends over time.

Innovation Phases Description

Process innovation

Key Deliverables / Impact

  • Develop and configure the mVAM Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
  • Compare cost-efficiency and speed of voice technology and face-to-face interviews for food security monitoring.
  • Document lessons learned for using IVR to collect household food security data in humanitarian contexts.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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